As the COVID-19 pandemic infection rate decreases, you might think, “I’m tired of being home alone.” If you’re single you may feel this even more keenly than those with romantic partners or spouses. In addition, even when it’s not a holiday like Valentine’s Day, there’s a lot of emphasis on not being alone. Much of the time, society tends to focus people who are involved with a loved one romantically or sexually. We don’t pay much attention to people who don’t have romantic partners. If you’re single, you might feel pressured to get into a relationship in order to not be lonely. You might worry about being perceived as undesirable, or you might feel inadequate because you’re not romantically involved.
Being lonely vs. being alone
There is a difference between being alone and being lonely, as Adrea Cope notes. Being alone can be seen as a choice or a condition imposed upon a person by cruel circumstances. Loneliness is an emotional reaction to the state of being alone. It sometimes involves an element of grief about lost relationships or lost opportunities for being with people.
By contrast, one can view being home alone as a choice or as a decision to be independent. Being alone is not necessarily a sign that you could not find a partner if you wanted one. Rather, it can be a deliberate choice to be autonomous, liberated, and free to live your life the way you want. You might experience being alone as a pleasurable experience, one you seek out to regulate the balance between being with others and being by yourself. Have you ever wanted to just have some “me” time?
Implications of being home alone
Being alone can also be cleansing after a relationship that didn’t work out. I’ve seen a lot of clients rush into relationships after they break out because they don’t want to be perceived as “losers.” The implication is that if you’re alone, you can’t get a date. Sometimes it takes time to learn what went wrong in the last relationship. It also takes time to heal from the damage that relationship might have caused. It’s crucial to observe how you interpret your aloneness. What are you telling yourself about it?
When you take the time to evaluate what went wrong, you have a better chance of improving future relationships. This includes an honest evaluation of how you contributed to the demise of the relationship, and what you need to do now to grow and heal. How are you interpreting it? That process of recognition and acknowledgment can make your alone time much more pleasant and productive.
You can use journaling or meditation to explore what you’re telling yourself. This self-exploration might also open you up to new ways of seeing your aloneness. What self-valuing messages can you use to start replacing the criticism and pessimism? It's natural to think, "I'm tired of being home alone," but it's also helpful to gain some acceptance of how things are for right now.
Your value is not determined by your relationships
There’s no rule saying you have to be in a relationship in order to be sexy, desirable, lovable, or a “winner.” In fact, some very likable, sociable, and interesting people are single, by choice. I believe it’s time we respected the diversity in people’s need or desire to be with another person. Some people feel very little need to be in a relationship and prefer solitude, while others have a strong desire and need to be in a relationship. The level of involvement is really up to each person, and I don’t think there’s a need to shame people for wanting what they want.
Being alone as a choice vs. a symptom of being unwell
One caveat about being alone: Sometimes depressed people isolate, as do people who have Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, and at times, PTSD. It’s important to distinguish between preferring to be alone because you like your own company and feel comfortable enjoying life that way, and avoidance. It’s understandable to avoid being hurt, as you have been in the past. No one can fault you for that. Sometimes, you might feel tired of being home alone, but also feel like isolating. This is common with depression.
However, this desire to be alone is often accompanied by emotional misery and time spent either in self-reproach or immobilized numbness. If that is the case, I encourage you to get psychological care. You don’t have to be in contact with people all the time, but the time you spend whether alone or with people should generally be at least neutral, if not pleasant. If it’s hard to be around people and/or yourself, there’s a good chance that some healing needs to happen, to restore you to normal interpersonal functioning.
In closing, being lonely is a state of mind that crosses everyone’s path from time to time. It doesn’t need to be a constant visitor, and the way we view other people and ourselves can make a big difference in how long and how strong we experience loneliness. If you want to get more comfortable with being alone, please call me at 661-233-6771.